The number of factors that need to align for a person to become pregnant and carry a baby is extraordinary. Hormones, ovulation, intercourse, fertilization, and implantation all have steps that need to ruction properly for a pregnancy to be viable. 1 in 8 couples can have trouble conceiving a child on their own.
A person or couple's fertility does not come into question until there has been frequent unprotect intercourse that does not result in pregnancy over a year.
A large variety of factors can affect infertility in women:
Irregular or absent periods
Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Blood Clotting Disorders
Several factors can affect infertility in men:
Azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced)
Oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced)
Excessive heat exposure
For people who are trying to conceive, knowing when you are most fertile is a reasonable place to start. A woman's most fertile window is the three days leading up to and including ovulation.
Tracking periods and ovulation can be helpful information to have and will be necessary if a couple decides to see a fertility specialist. A woman's cycle starts on day 1 of her period and ends the day before her next period. Ovulation typically happens 14 before the start of her period. So depending on the length of the cycle, determining an individual "fertility window" can be mapped.
If mapping your fertility becomes complicated and adds unnecessary stress, having sex every 2 to 3 days can be a helpful guide. There are also ovulation kits that are available at pharmacies. And as a natural predictor, vaginal mucus tends to become clear and slippery a few days before ovulation as well.
Something to consider when discussing family planning and fertility is age, as fertility declines as we all get older. Women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance to conceive then people who are older. In the medical world, A woman aged 35 or above is automatically deemed "AMA," or Advanced Material Age, and is considered High Risk in most practices.
If you are older than 35 or 40, respective to your sex, know that it is appropriate to reach out to a fertility specialist after only 6 months of trying to conceive, and not the full year.
Fertility and Infertility are often not discussed openly. If you are looking for a support group, or additional resources, consider including your physician or therapist in a conversation. If you would like more information before taking any next steps to explore your fertility, Resolve may be a helpful, as well as The Portland Fertility Clinic.
For more insight into preparing for pregnancy, https://www.yourfertility.org.au is an excellent resource for information. Also "Before Your Pregnancy: A 90-Day Guide for Couples On How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception" by Amy Ogle, M.S., R.D./ and Lisa Mazzullo, M.D.